Amendment of the Constitution
Amendment of the constitution implies changing certain provisions or updating few external features to meet the requirement of the day. For the Constitution to reflect the reality and necessity of the day, provision of constitutional amendment is necessary.
Requirement of the Constitutional Amendment
The necessity for the Amendment of the Constitution can be emphasized as follows:
• If there had been no provision of the amendment, the people and the leaders would have adhered to some extra constitutional mean like revolution, violence and so on there by diluting the very constitution per se.
• Provisions for amendment of the constitution is made with a view to overcome the difficulties which may encounter in future in the working of the constitution.
• It is also necessary in order to fix loop holes at the time of constitution enactment
• Ideals, priorities and vision of the people vary greatly generation to generation. In order to incorporate these, amendment is desirable.
Procedures for Amending the Constitution
Constitution can be amended by various methods namely, simple majority, special majority, and ratification by at least half the states. Constitutional amendment under article 368 is considered as the core amendment procedure in the Indian constitution, whose procedure can be explained as follows-
• It can be laid in any house of the parliament
• It cannot be introduced in state legislature
• The bill can be introduced either by a minister or a private member
• The permission of president is not required to introduce the bill in either house of the parliament
• The bill must be passed by each house separately
• It should be passed by special majority (2/3rd of members present and voting and not less than 50% of total strength)
• The ratification by at least half of the state is imperative in case of amendment of any federal feature of the Indian constitution
• After all the above steps, the bill is presented before president where he has no option but to sign. However, the time period has not been set for the president to act on the bill
• Once the president gives his assent, the bill becomes an act
Types of Amendments
Under the ambit of article 368 of the constitution, there are two types of amendment to the constitution of India.
1. Special Majority of Parliament only
2. Special Majority of parliament along with the ratification of half of the states by a simple majority.
Criticisms of the Amendment of the Constitution are as follows:
1. India doesn’t have any permanent constitutional amendment body unlike many other countries and all the effort is carried by relatively naïve and amateur parliament
2. State legislature, except having the power to initiate the establishment or abolition of legislative council, do not have any other scope of initiating amendment procedure. This makes the Indian constitution a monopoly of centre as well as makes it too rigid for the states.
3. The existence of two houses of the parliament makes it difficult to pass the constitutional amendment act owing to disagreement between the two houses.
4. There is hardly any difference between normal legislative function and constitutional amendment function.
5. There are too much of loop holes. For instance, there is a possibility of amending the presidential impeachment process reducing 2/3rd of total strength to 2/3rd of present and voting and hence in case the ruling party if unable to muster 2/3rd majority of total strength it can always devise such a technique to suit his way.
6. There is no time frame for state legislature to ratify
7. There is no time frame for the president to give his assent
Describing the constitutional amendment procedure of the Indian constitution, K.G. Balakrishnan (former CJI) has rightly said that amending the Constitution strikes a good balance between flexibility and rigidity. Moreover, Granville Austin, a renowned scholar of the Indian Constitution said, “The amending process has proved itself as one of the most ably conceived aspects of the constitution. Although it appears complicated, it is merely diverse.”